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Although I love technology and all that it has enabled humans to achieve, for some reason I have never been able to rely 100% on computers, cell phones, what have you, for my day-to-day planning.  It doesn’t help that they started me on paper planners early by handing out a free planner to each student in elementary school.  Each day we would write down the assignments we had for homework (I know, homework in 4th grade?).  From that moment on – whether it was the ritual of it or the pride in crossing assignments off as I completed them – I was hooked. 

Now that I’m out of elementary school (and college, for that matter) no one ever hands you a planner at the beginning of the year.  I have made a small career out of selecting or commissioning planners to be made for me.  This one’s too small, this one’s too big, this one seems to be made of rubber, this one seems to be based on the Mayan calendar…

Thank goodness for Russell + Hazel based out of Minneapolis.  They have created a (very much not rubber) line of office supplies and organizational tools to help modern people with an eye for design stay on top of their daily routines.  

Step One:  Select a cloth-covered mini binder (I have one in gold and another in apricot)  

Step Two:  Purchase Mini SmartDate sheets

Step Three:  Select any other mini items that will help keep you organized. (I use the page protectors, tab dividers, and lined paper, to name a few).

Step Four:  When you receive your package in the mail, put the pieces of your planner together, migrate your dates and scraps of paper to your new planner, and Voila!  instant organizational bliss.

Step Five:  Find various ways to show off your new, gorgeous planner. 

This beautiful system is not without flaw, unfortunately: 

  • I would prefer that the SmartDate system have the week spread out onto two sheets rather than just one, giving more room for the weekend.  I end up having to rely on the notes section to really fill out my weekend plans. 
  • Also, I love that I can fill in the dates myself but a 2011/2012 month and day sheet would be very helpful, even if they insist on charging for it. 
  • Speaking of money, this whole kit and caboodle will cost you.  The value, of course, is that ideally you will only be purchasing more SmartDate sheets next year.
  • The website can be tricky – When you’re trying to put together the ULTIMATE PLANNER you don’t necessarily have time to triple check that everything in your cart reads “Mini” so you can inadvertently purchase items that will be too big for your planner. (They have full-sized binders as well.)

In all seriousness, this is the best planner system I have ever encountered.  I also fully plan to visit the Russell + Hazel shop some day (and bring an empty suitcase to fill with their wonderful products).  I look forward to using this system for years to come.